Boris Johnson insists leaked government document predicting Irish Sea customs checks is 'wrong'

Posted On: 
8th December 2019

Boris Johnson has insisted a leaked government analysis suggesting there would need to be customs checks in the Irish Sea after Brexit is "wrong".

Boris Johnson has insisted his Brexit deal will not produce further custom checks in Northern Ireland

The Prime Minister rubbished claims his Brexit deal would lead to new customs checks for goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain after a leaked Treasury document said there were "potential fetters" in the proposals.

On Friday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn unveiled the report, prepared by civil servants, which concluded that "customs declarations and documentary and physical checks [West/East] and [East/West] will be highly disruptive to the NI economy".

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Mr Corbyn said the document drove a "coach and horses" through the Prime Minister's claims his deal would not create a border in the Irish sea.

But speaking to Sky's Sophy Ridge, Mr Johnson said there would "absolutely not" be new checks, adding: "The deal we've done with the EU is a brilliant deal... unlike the previous arrangements it allows the whole of the UK to come out of the EU including Northern Ireland and the only checks that there would be, would if something was coming from GB via Northern Ireland and was going on to the Republic..."

And asked if he believed Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay was wrong to suggest there would be new checks, he added: "Yes”.

“Because there's no question of there being checks on goods going NI/GB or GB/NI because they are part of - if you look at what the deal is, we're part of the same customs territory and it's very clear that there should be unfettered access between Northern Ireland and the rest of GB... the whole of the UK comes out of the EU.

"We're a UK government, why would we put checks on goods going from NI to GB or GB to NI? It doesn't make sense."

Speaking on Friday, Mr Corbyn said the documents provided "cold, hard evidence" Mr Johnson's plans would create further red tape for goods passing between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

"What we have here is a confidential report by Johnson's new government, marked 'official, sensitive', that exposes the falsehoods that Boris Johnson has been putting forward," he said.

"This is cold, hard evidence that categorically shows the impact a damaging Brexit deal would have on large parts of our country."

The Conservatives insisted the plans were an "initial assessment" drawn up by junior civil servants and which had never been seen by Mr Johnson or other senior ministers.

But the leak provoked a backlash from DUP candidate Jeffrey Donaldson who said it proved his party was right to vote against Mr Johnson's plans when they were put before the Commons in October.

He said: "Despite his protestations, the facts are in black and white. That is why we opposed the deal in the House of Commons and why Northern Ireland needs the deal changed.